Aged Care Investments

25 Jun 2018 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby) (11:16): As the federal member for Boothby, I represent more than 28,000 people aged over 65 and their families in my community. I recognise the importance of supporting our older Australians and know that one of the most important duties we have as a nation and as representatives in this place is to particularly care for and represent those older Australians who cannot care for and represent themselves. That's why the Turnbull government is investing in our aged-care sector. The Minister for Aged Care, the Hon. Ken Wyatt AM, MP, has ensured that aged care is at the forefront of our government's significant reform agenda, and I want to congratulate and thank the minister for the wonderful job that he's doing. He really does care about the
welfare and wellbeing of every single senior Australian.

For too long, particularly in my home state of South Australia, the health, safety and wellbeing of our senior Australians has not been a priority. We have all seen the devastating report on the treatment and conditions of people in aged-care facilities, particularly at Oakden in South Australia, which will have a devastating, lifelong impact on the victims and their families. That's why the Turnbull government is prioritising our senior Australians —so that no family ever has to endure the shameful abuse and neglect that occurred under the previous South Australian Labor government. Our reforms are giving people more choice over the sort of care that will best suit their needs and their families' needs. The government's investment in aged care is at a record $18.6 billion this year and is set to grow at around six per cent per annum over the next four years. We're supporting older Australians to remain living in their homes by delivering an additional 14,000 new high-level home care packages on top of the 6,000 level 3 and 4 home care packages announced in September 2017.

We're providing an additional 13½ thousand residential aged-care places and 775 short-term restorative care places across the nation. We are providing interim care and support services, like Meals on Wheels, cleaning and personal care, through our record $5.5 billion investment in the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which assists around 800,000 older Australians. And, importantly, we are providing transparency as we implement these reforms. This all means that, over the next four years, aged-care funding is up, home care packages are up and residential aged-care places are up. This is a stark comparison to what those opposite did when they were in government. In the 2010-11 budget, they ripped $9 million out of aged care. Then, to make things worse, the then Labor government's 2011-12 budget ripped another $211.7 million out of aged care. And, in 2012-13, Labor cut residential care places.

The Turnbull government is fixing Labor's aged-care mess with significant long-term reforms and a detailed, costed plan to support older Australians. We are investing $61.7 million in the My Aged Care system, to make it simpler and easier to use, to ensure older Australians have access to the services they need, when they need them. We are supporting healthy ageing, by improving mental health services for senior Australians and introducing a new grant program to encourage physical activity. We are establishing a new and independent one-stop shop Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, to give older Australians and their families the confidence that they will be properly cared for and that they know where to turn when they have problems. We are establishing a single set of standards so that the same core, non-negotiable expectations will apply across all services and will strengthen and streamline the regulation of safe, quality care.

In the 2018-19 budget, the Turnbull government announced an additional $32.8 million to increase access to community based palliative care, to support older Australians who wish to pass away in their home, with their family. This is something that a number of people in my electorate raised with me, and I'm pleased to see that we have introduced it. We have also committed $5.3 million to improve care for people living with dementia, with an emphasis on the use of innovative technologies. We are doing a range of other things, with record hospital funding and GP bulk-billing, and I again thank the minister for the wonderful job that he is doing caring for our senior Australians.